Standing at the portal
Of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us,
Hushing every fear;
Spoken thru the silence
By our Savior’s voice,
Tender, strong and faithful,
Making us rejoice.

Onward, then, and fear not,
Children of the day;
For His Word shall never,
Never pass away.

“I, the Lord, am with thee,
Be thou not afraid;
I will help and strengthen
Be thou not dismayed.
Yea, I will uphold thee
With My own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen
In My sight to stand.”

For the year before us,
O what rich supplies!
For the poor and needy
Living streams shall rise;
For the sad and sinful
Shall His grace abound;
For the faint and feeble
Perfect strength be found.

He will never fail us,
He will not forsake;
For His eternal covenant
He will never break.
Resting on the promise,
What have we to fear?
God is all sufficient
For the coming year.

-Frances Havergal, 1873



Hope: Vision-led endurance

What endurance these orchids demonstrate. They were a gift that arrived this past summer and here they are still blooming in the last short days of December.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5, 6)

Wintered Over on the Window Ledge

wintered geraniums frosty window
Everything hasty

gone to seed

Bedside prayers

rise silent

from hearts in despair

Glory gone but

hope rises like tomorrow’s dawn

Joy smiles wisely

under confetti skies

Gentle snow

clings diligently to

frost-blown pane

Greater still the glory

dying like evening sun

bringing glory

to glory

Promise in wilderness rest

product of grace fulfilled

in time

Shalom –

nothing missing

everything in place

No Bounds

Filled with Your Glory, Lord
Filled with Your Glory, Lord

In my heart, in my heart, there’s a fire burning
A passion deep within my soul
Not slowing down, not growing cold
An unquenchable flame that keeps burning brighter
A love that’s blazing like the sun
For who You are and what You’ve done

And as the fire is raging on
So Your praise becomes my song

The whole earth
Is filled with Your glory, Lord
Angels and men adore
Creation longs for what’s in store
(Mountains bow and oceans roar)
May You be
Honored and glorified
Exalted and lifted high
Here at Your feet I lay my life

From the ends of the earth
To the heights of Heaven
Your glory, Lord, is far and wide
Through history You reign on high

From the depths of the sea
To the mountain’s summit
Your power, Lord, it knows no bounds
A higher love cannot be found

So let the universe proclaim
Your great power and Your great name



Festival Joy!

Under the lamp post
Under the lamp post

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light.

For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—

light! sunbursts of light!


Festival joy!

The joy of a great celebration,

sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.


For a child has been born—for us!

the gift of a son—for us!

(From Isaiah 9,  The Message paraphrase)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope!

Peace on earth,


This is Not About Guns

Bar the Door
Bar the Door

Maybe it’s time to stop talking about guns and address the real issue. Maybe it’s time to talk about fear.

I’ve been trying (not always successfully) to stay out of the discussion about handgun and assault gun ownership. It’s another argument that tends to produce more heat than light, and frankly some of these people scare me. Sometimes I find that when an argument pulls me in with the tentacles of emotion it’s best to move back for a while and look at the bigger picture.

A post a friend made about the Swiss being required to have a gun in the home, yet having a low rate of use made me think.

Some people have insisted that gun ownership is not the issue; it’s gun usership. Last night, as I lay awake, it struck me that neither gun ownership nor gun control may be the issue. Perhaps the real issue is the underlying factor that motivates both sides: fear.

After some thought I had to admit my reasons for being against gun ownership were also motivated by fear. I have never heard of a case of crime thwarted by a gun owned by a private citizen in my neck of the woods. I have however, met far too many grieving people whose loved ones used a gun on themselves in a fit of despair or self-loathing. They had no chance to change their minds and call an ambulance. (When I was going through the hell of depression I could easily have been one of them if my husband had kept guns.)

I know regretful families, in agony, now raising children who shot their little sisters or favourite cousins while playing with a temporarily unguarded firearm. A friend’s son once shot our boy at point blank range in the chest with a beebee gun while the rest of us chatted over dessert inside. (He thought it wasn’t loaded.) It caught a rib, and I thank God with all my heart that it wasn’t a more powerful weapon.

We also have a family member who was accosted in her bedroom by an intruder who had already found her handgun. It did not turn out well for her.

My rejection of guns designed to kill people (and not just for hunting purposes where people actually depend on wild game) is based on experience, but it is indeed, based on fear.

When I was a kid I knew it was dangerous to get between Grandpa and the late news on TV (and not because he had a gun). In fact he had been an unarmed security guard for a meat packing plant for 25 years. I never realized until he was suffering from dementia that he spent every one of those 25 years in fear. Grandma had promised not to put him in “the home” but when he started sleeping with knives under the pillow and bats under the bed she had no choice. Sometimes in his confusion he mistook her for a burglar. Nothing is more dangerous than a cornered, confused, fearful person with a weapon.

The news Grandpa watched was usually the same news he had seen at six o’clock, but nothing interrupted his late night news. I think it made him feel more in control somehow to keep on top of what was happening outside his locked doors. The difference between then and now is that the news then was mostly local news and included reports of milk chute coin thefts and fender benders. Now the news plays all day and night and includes detailed footage of horrendous crime from around the world and can seem as threatening as if blood was flowing in our own neighbourhoods. The fear ante has gone up.

Then there are all the talking heads, prophesying  fiasco  and speculating ”unsubstantiated reports.” Their amplifiers, the social media, can spread fear, rumour and conspiracy theories that go around as rapidly as winter cold germs in a kindergarten.

But what does fear feed on? Well, bad guys, of course, but I wonder if, deep down, one of our greatest fears is that other people will treat us the way we have treated them. I wonder if the secret hates we harbour in our hearts, or the unspoken guilt over the innocents killed by “collateral damage,” or the third world labourers we have exploited to maintain “our way of life”, or even the people we have cut off in traffic or sold shoddy goods to, give fear something to grow on.  I wonder of the god we created in our own image, the vengeful and punishing god-helps-those-who-help-themselves god, is unreliable, if our distrust of ourselves and disappointment in the many fathers who left this generation to fend for themselves, is projected onto him as well.  (The statement, “God helps those who help themselves is not in the Bible; in fact it teaches quite the opposite.)

One person told me recently that although he thinks children should be taught the Bible in school, and all teachers (whether they disdain faith in God or not) should be required to lead prayers to him anyway (as if the kids won’t pick up that attitude), “when all else fails” he has a gun and knows how to use it -and he intends to teach his kids too. I’ve got to wonder if making preparation for the failure of his god to meet his needs speaks more loudly than all the prayers in school ever will and he is teaching his children more about fear than faith.

Perhaps it is too late to turn our swords into plowshares. Perhaps the only thing that will deter fearful people with weapons is more fearful people aiming equally powerful weapons back at them. Perhaps there is no way out of this stand-off.

But perhaps, this is what this season is all about. Perhaps the message that the angels gave the terrified shepherds is what we need to hear most.

“Fear not! For I bring you news of great joy. A Saviour has been born –for you.”